Stronger Together event celebrates rebuilding of local shopping center

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For a small town like Panama City, getting help after a major natural disaster can seem like it's dwindling one year after Hurricane Michael.

The Brixmore Property Group and Panama City residents celebrated the strength of their community on Saturday at "Stronger Together" (WJHG/WECP).

But a national corporation is doing their part to help rebuild Panama City.

On Saturday, the Brixmore Property Group held a "Stronger Together" party to celebrate the strength of the community during trying times.

The Brixmore group even donated more than 400 trees to the city.

"We need to bring our trees back that we lost from the storm, and you know, for myself, in my yard we had eleven full sized trees that are all gone," said Lynn Elliott, a Panama City resident.

Brixmore CEO Jim Taylor says it's important to be a part of the community they work in.

"For us its really important to not only rebuild and get our shopping centers open but also to make sure that we're connecting with the community more broadly," said Taylor.

Last year the Panama City Square shopping center- which is owned by the Brixmore group- was damaged during Hurricane Michael.

Now just one year later it's open for business.

"This is the hub. This is the shopping hub of the whole five county area. the traffic count on this road is probably greater than any other place in the 5 county area," said Greg Brudnicki, Mayor of Panama City.

He says this is not only important for the local economy, but also for the morale of its citizens.

"It's encouraging for the citizens, it sets the example, it sets the tone for the rest of the people here to go: 'well guess what, I better clean my stuff up'," said Brudnicki.

And for some with the Brixmore group, rebuilding the shopping center is personal.

"Personally, I was married here, so I've always had a spot for Panama City in my heart, and just to know all the people that have been here and all the people involved, we wanted to make sure they knew we were here for them,"said Jeff Bell, VP of Construction, Brixmore Property Group.

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